America has long faced stiff competition in the sciences, from Japan, Europe, Russia, and now China and India. But if Kansas Senator Sam Brownback's Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009 passes, expect our lead in science to vanish:
It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly, in or otherwise affecting interstate commerce:
- create or attempt to create a human-animal hybrid;
- transfer or attempt to transfer a human embryo into a non-human womb;
- transfer or attempt to transfer a non-human embryo into a human womb; or
- transport or receive for any purpose a human-animal hybrid.
Under Brownback's bill, the simple creation of new forms of life, even for the noblest of purposes, would be punishable be up to ten years in prison and a fine of one million dollars. The overall effect on research into forbidden knowledge would be catastrophic.
Lest you call me mad, consider that this law goes far beyond the dark art of forming so-called "human-animal hybrids," and it's not only the Doctor Moreaus of America whose inquiries into advanced biology would be prohibited. Why entire fields of research would shut down:
The term `human-animal hybrid' means …
a non-human life form engineered such that it contains a human brain or a brain derived wholly or predominantly from human neural tissues.
Yes, under a restrictive reading even the creation of cybernetic organisms would become a crime, not just against the so-called Natural Order, but against the laws of man as well. And where will it stop? What will they forbid next? Mathematical study of the non-Euclidean geometries of space-time? The creation of new life from dead matter? Exploration of the building blocks of matter? Spectacular advances in the field of medicine? Unorthodox theories of cartography? Basic nanotechnological research? Design of autonomous self-replicating machines programmed to relentlessly destroy all life in the universe?
What's worse is that laws of this sort will have no lasting effect. While the loss of so many great minds would indeed be a tragedy for the American economy, geniuses whose gifts are unappreciated, those whom society calls mad, will simply transfer their researches overseas. Even in the conventional sciences, America faces a "brain drain." But those whose lust for knowledge, for power, for conquest!, carries them into that which is forbidden will go overseas, to Transylvania, to uncharted volcanic islands, or to serve the Nazi Hell Creatures Who Live Within The Hollow Earth.
I, for one, decry this attempt to strangle budding sciences in the crib. Senators such as Sam Brownback, while well-intentioned and obviously lacking for work, may make useful servants to the race of Human-Animal Hybrid Supermen of tomorrow, but they're not qualified to legislate on science, much less on The Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.
I want my country to keep its lead in sciences of all description, so that other nations may tremble when some misunderstood genius cries, "Today America. Tomorrow the world!"
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